THE JOHN 3:5 PROJECT
"....nothing is impossible for God."
Zacharias asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” ~ Luke 1:18-20
Posted: Sunday, May 2, 2021
There is a statement that I use quite frequently as it pertains to God, and that is "God manifests evidence of his existence and his presence." We cannot know God exists or is present unless he makes himself known (Romans 1:20-21, Mark 16:17-18). Making his presence known serves to verify his existence and justify a basis of belief. If God has an expectation that we believe and trust in him, and he does (Mark 16:16, Romans 4:21, Hebrews 11:6), that expectation is an implicit (and simultaneously explicit )statement that God has already provided us the foundation necessary "to" believe and trust in him.
Since God always provides the foundation for belief, it is up to us to surrender "reason" over to reliance on God for what he has instructed or promised (sometimes, much easier said than done). Here in Luke chapter one, we find the angel Gabriel visiting the priest Zacharias to deliver the news that God is going to bless him and his wife Elisabeth with a child. Apparently, the subject of having a child was one Zacharias, and by assumption Elisabeth (v. 25), had sought God for at some earlier point in life. Elisabeth was barren and now she and her husband were well beyond the child bearing years. Nevertheless, it is at this time in their lives that God sends his messenger to tell Zacharias that his prayer for a child has been answered. We read in:
Luke 1:13But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
God sent one of his highest-ranking messengers to deliver the miraculous news to Zacharias and that his wife would give birth to a child. One would assume that Zacharias would have been overcome with joy and gratefulness. Yet, rather than exuberance upon hearing the news, Zacharias instead casts suspicion on the words of Gabriel and ultimately, the words of God. He replies (verse 18)
Luke 1:18And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
Zacharias’ faux pas in not readily receiving God’s news is accented by Gabriel’s response in verse 19 reads:
Luke 1:19And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest "not" my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
The messenger Gabriel, taking exception to Zacharias' unbelief, appears to validate himself as a speaker of the truth. Zacharias’ doubt of God’s message through his messenger resulted in the angel restricting his ability to speak until the promise was fulfilled. Despite the miraculous appearance of Gabriel, his knowledge of Zacharias’ prayer and the answer from God himself, it just wasn’t enough for him to fully accept the truth. Zacharias was guilty of what we all are guilty of at some point in our walk with God; and that is pitting human situation against the power of God. Zacharias did not take the words of God at face value. Instead, he interpreted them through the filter of human reason and what is possible from the human perspective and the result was "skepticism." He took into consideration his age and his wife’s age and concluded that "God is limited, because "humankind" is limited."
When it comes to God, we cannot apply human reason to what God says or promises to do. God is not limited by our "limitations", nor is he impeded by the restrictions imposed on us by our situations. In God’s control, we are not bound in any manner; no matter how bleak the situation may seem, or how unlikely a "desirable" outcome may appear. Whatever state or situation we might find ourselves in, no matter how difficult the terms of that situation are, it is simply not a factor from God’s perspective. God is not limited by "time" or "resources"; every and ALL situations exist as he dictates or allows.
What God purposes to do in our lives is beyond any restriction except one; BELIEF. We must learn to lean on God even in what may seem to be the most "hopeless" of situations and come to accept that "he" always operates in our interest. Naturally, in difficult times and circumstances, we want solutions and or liberation as quickly as possible. That isn’t a bad thing, but often, as humans, we have in our minds what an ideal outcome "looks like", and when the optimal time for us to have our desire is. God’s outcome may "look" entirely different than what we've imagined and may be best received in another place in time. Rarely do we factor in the possibility that reaching that outcome may include "loss", "hardship", "sorrow", or a myriad of other emotional tariffs we all would like to avoid. Even so, during it, God is there; guiding and directing.
Why did God choose to wait until Zacharias and Elisabeth were old to give them a child; we don’t know. How old was Zacharias when he sought the Lord for a child; we don’t know. Most likely, it was while Elisabeth was in her "child bearing" years. After all, if Zacharias struggled to believe it was possible to have a child in Elisabeth's old age, particularly after being "told" she would give birth, why assume he asked for a child after he felt it was too late; but of course, that is simply conjecture. God will answer our prayers in his time and at the optimum moment. Our responsibility is to take his promises at face value and never give up, or doubt him. Doubt is the result of pitting human limitations against God’s abilities. It’s saying God cannot because "I" … [fill in the blank].
We cannot peer into the mind of God to "know" what he is doing, in terms of his reasons and motivations for operating as he does. Quite often, he does not share his intentions, or his goal during our periods of waiting on him. The bible says that God is a God of knowledge (1 Samuel 2:3). God himself also said that "my people "perish" for a lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). In contemplating this, we must accept the fact that God is always looking to "increase" our understanding. The route God takes to answer prayer may seem "unnecessarily" long or difficult, but the path to the answer is "part" of the answer.
As we travel with God, we develop insight and understanding which prepares us "for" the answer to our prayer; we learn as we go. He always operates in our interest even if it does not seem that way. We must "trust" him during the journey and never allow our belief to be undermined because of "time", "resources", or circumstance. We must trust him and "know" God is always there and responds to our sincere supplications. When he does, there is never a reason to doubt him.